Iran’s top security body rejects lockdown of epidemic areas

Al-Monitor – Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), formed by its most powerful officials and chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, has rejected demands from health authorities on the ground to lock down the northern province of Gilan, where the coronavirus epidemic is on a deadly march from one overwhelmed hospital to another.

Lawmakers and medical staff in other areas have made similar requests, including in the clergy-based city of Qom — the epicenter of the disease — and Mazandaran province, which has witnessed a particularly worrisome hike in its infected cases. Superiors in Tehran have rejected those calls as well.

On March 11, Iran’s Health Ministry added 63 more deaths caused by the epidemic, bringing the tally to 354. Nearly 1,000 people were also reported to have tested positive in one day. The latest official report pushed the total number of the infected close to the 9,000 mark.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki has now told the Supreme National Security Council that the country is still far from the peak of the virus, suggesting that the mortality rate may accelerate until the second week of April. According to Namaki, at least another two months — around mid-June — remain before the epidemic is eradicated. Meanwhile, Iran’s Education Ministry announced that there was no certainty as to when schools could be reopened and that it was weighing plans for a one-month makeup course during the summer holidays.

Read more here